Over a quarter of UK workers are wasting three months a year surfing the internet, looking at non-work related content.

According to new research by Gurucul, a security and fraud analytics technology provider, 28 per cent of people spend over two hours of their work day surfing the web. After calculating further, it was computed this adds up to 10 hours a week, 40 hours in a month and 480 hours in a year, or the equivalent of three months in working hours.

Based on the average UK salary, £29,000, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), employers are essentially paying their employees £7,250 annually to surf the internet.

Retail is the sector that was most affected by this, of which 32 per cent admitted to spending over two hours daily surfing the web whilst at work.

Similarly, 30 per cent of those who worked as part of a big company, one with over 10,000 employees, admitted to using the internet for non-work related activities for longer periods of time.

When analysing how the time spent surfing the web is used, social media was the biggest culprit with just under a third (32 per cent) admitting this was what they spent the most time on, followed by 24 per cent doing online shopping, 19 per cent looking for their annual holiday whilst 12 per cent actually searched for a new job whilst sitting at their current work desk.

Craig Cooper, chief operating officer (COO) from Gurucul, said:

What these figures do is show is that in some industries, such as retail, almost half of people are somehow finding the time in their working day to surf the Internet for at least an hour or more.

Experience shows that increased surfing will lead to more cyber attacks, such as phishing scams, resulting in instances of insider threat behaviour. We suggest employers use machine learning to monitor their employees’ behaviour. This type of monitoring works well to compare current behaviour of all users to baselined “normal” behaviour. By doing so, organisations can identify anomalous trends and spot outliers to remediate threats.

In essence, most instances of internet surfing at work are harmless, but at the levels this survey shows, employers are quite naïve when it comes to knowing the ‘ins and outs’ of the daily happenings of their employees.

This survey was carried out by Gurucul in August 2019 who asked a sample of 476 IT professionals.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.